Commentary by Prof. B.: Currently I am writing a new leadership course. As a busy church consultant/coach I’ve benefited from a deep expertise in my field. But, I also must partner with colleagues in other fields to write my courses for reasons this article and the research cited in it explains.
“Innovation Is About Networks, Not Nodes” by Greg Satell, Inc. Magazine, 12/2/17.
Exploring New Connections
For decades, creativity researchers have understood that deep domain expertise is essential for creativity. It is those that know a particular area very well who best understand which are the important problems, what approaches have already been used to try to solve them and what would be truly novel.
Yet it is also true that great breakthroughs arise through synthesis across domains. Darwin spent years studying fossils and morphology, but it was an essay about economics that broke the logjam and allowed him to put the pieces together. In much the same way, it was Watson and Crick’s broad approach that helped them win the race to discover the structure of DNA.
More recently, researchers analyzing 17.9 million scientific papers found that the most highly cited work is far more likely to come from a team of experts in one field that borrowed a small piece of insight from another. Innovation almost always involves a novel combination.
The only way to find that unlikely strand is to constantly make new connections. The more diverse information you come across, the more likely you are to find that seemingly random piece of insight that can help you…